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Troop Bologna?

What a thrill.

By Monica A. Reyhani

Hello, my little tortellini! We're still in Italy this week, but this time, we're in Bologna. My cousin actually just got back from Italy, compelling my father to share some stories of he and my mother's trip there several years ago, so I've had Italy on the brain! The teams start the Course by driving to Modena. You may recognize the name Modena from every bottle of balsamic vinegar you've ever purchased in your life. They arrive at a chesse aging facility. The first task is to "Find 3 Wheels of Cheese Marked with a Green Triangle." I really didn't understand why either team didn't seem to split up more to make the job go faster. Maybe they don't trust each other? That's a rhetorical question, obviously.

The Red Team finishes first, and as Avery puts it, "The Red Team is a train wreck." And at this point, she's right. Liz tried to send Jenna home last week, and the two kind of hate each other. They hash it out in the car on the way to Modena. It's really interesting to see how different these two women are. If you watch the scene in the car with the sound off, like I did (I'm watching it for the second time, people), you see Jenna talking and Liz just taking it. Never a good sign. I think we have a Heather/Beverly situation on our hands. Where my Top Chef fans at? I think you know who's who. That's not to say I don't think Liz couldn't use a little help. As a loudmouth myself, I'm never for one just sitting there and taking anything. Stand up for yourself, Liz! 

Next, the Red Team has to Deliver the Wheel to Tamburini Salumeria in Bologna. They need this win. They need the morale. Somehow the Black Team catches up, which Jenna is not happy about. Sidenote, but what I love is that Jenna can make any comment to anyone but when John tries to tell her to step it up, she stops to tell him he's stressing her out. Mm-hmmm. The Black Team actually delivers their cheese first. They are issued the next task to "Find 12 Specialty Items and Deliver to Ristorante Pappagallo." Both teams figure out that they won't be able to find all the items at the Salumeria, so they start looking around the shops on the rest of the street. The Black Team apparently gets all their ingredients together first. I say apparently this time, because Nicole crossed off Parmiggiano Reggiano without actually obtaining it. While they're out looking for their cheese, the Red Team comes through! Let's go, Red!The next task is to find Curtis and Cat at Piazza Maggiore. The Red Team wins! Did anyone have a Troop Beverly Hills flashback where they thought the Red Team aka the Red Feathers would enter the Piazza shouting "We're No. 1! We're No. 1 !" only to be beaten by the Black Team aka Shelley Long and Troop Beverly Hills? Just me? OK. I really think the Red Team needed this win, but as Nookie said "When Jenna wins, everyone loses." Yikes! Let's all settle down.

On to The Takeover! Obviously, the chefs this week need to focus on Bolognese Cuisine and create one antipasti, premi, which must be tortellini, and a secondi. Since the Red Team won The Course they not only get an extra 60 minutes to cook, but they get to dine with the adorable Chef Riccardo Facchini. They are given the option to let the Black Team dine with them. We hear Cat confide to Curtis that she would let her opponents come to the restaurant so they wouldn't get the extra knowledge of gallivanting around town. And that's what the Red Team decided. While it may have seemed like an advantage to hear the same things as the Red Team, it wasn't. Why? Because Jenna made sure of it. During the dinner, the chefs had an opportunity to ask the innocent chef questions. Jenna told him to only answer in Italian so only she could get the answers. I really don't know that he needed to listen to her, but it was an interesting move. The only info the chef shared was that they should use pork in the tortellini. Eh -- could've been worse. On to the kitchen!

Two hours does seem like a daunting amount of time to make tortellini, but I swear we've seen Top Chefs make it in less time. Oh well. Still, though, the Black Team needed help and had their wait staff assist. While Avery said she was more than comfortable making the pasta -- in fact, she said it was "easy," she was behind.

First course. Nick's mushroom antipasti killed it -- the other team's seemed forced. I don't think Nick's dish was much to look at it, but apparently it tasted good. On to the tortellini, one might say the most important part of the dish. Avery's tortellini tasted like wontons. But Nookie's broth was good. John's tortellini was better, but the broth -- made in large part by Jenna -- was too cheesy.For the final course, while Liz's teammates expected the worse, thinking her dish was salty, etc., the diners loved her dish. The other team on the other hand, destroyed their meat. Nicole not only butchered the meat incorrectly -- something Nick flagged in the kitchen (I would've taken the knife away from her!) -- but she also removed the fat cap before cooking it i.e. removing the flavor! Nick realized later that it should've been established earlier that since Nicole had immunity she shouldn't have made any important decisions about the plates.

Ultimately, the Red Team wins and John is MVC since he was responsible fo the tortellini dish. Thank G-d John finally won something! The Black Team, on the other hand, had to decide who to send home. As the weeks go by, I'm realizing more and more how interesting it is to see who the immune chefs vote for. They really are the wild cards. Nookie -- one half of the competition's only real alliance -- decides to send Nick home, even though he had the best dish on their team. What's funny is that Nookie aligned himself with Avery so neither could get all the blame for a dish, but that tortellini dish's failure was Avery's fault. Like I wrote after the first episode, I'm not convinced Nookie's tactics always work the way he expected. They ultimately work, but is it just luck?

So, goodbye, Nick! Although Nookie sent Nick home, he also swore vengeance on Nicole -- or y'know something less criminal-sounding. Will be interesting to see what he plans to do.

Next week, we're on to Chang Mai! Until then, Have a Nosh! 

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